Harry Turtledove is an impressive author, and this, one of his early books, shows us why he rose to the heights that he has. Believable characters, excellent plot, realistic situations, all hallmarks of his writing, and all here in this book.
When the Survey Service first came to Bilbeis IV, it found a planet inhabited by humanoid aliens just on the verge of civilization. Then compassion overcame common sense, and David Ware did the one thing the Service prohibited--he interfered. Just a little.
But when the Survey Service returned 1,500 years later, it discovered just what David Ware's meddling had done.
The bureaucrats of the Survey Service could not afford to allow such a breach of Noninterference to be publicized. So they set out to cover it up. Reports were destroyed, files erased, and people eliminated. But one witness refused to be silenced. For the future of the Survey Service was at stake--and so was the future of BilbeisIV.
One of the best Turtledove books I've ever read - and Lord knows I've read a ton of them.
David Ware did one thing the Federacy Survey Service prohibited - he interfered. Just a little.
1,500 years later when the Survey Service returned, it discovered just what Ware's meddling had done.
And that's when the Chairman ordered the cover up. Reports destroyed, filed erased, 18 days (not 18 1/2 minutes) were 'lost' and then people began to be eliminated.
Written back in 1985, Turtledove took a bit of Star Trek (Prime Directive: no interference with the social development of a planet), a bit of Watergate (one nasty cover-up) and mixed in an immortal priestess.
And I believe he pulls it off in grand style.
It was a quick read; a fun read. I highly recommend it.